Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Teaching and Learning

Department or School/College

Phyllis J. Washington College of Education

Committee Chair

Martin Horejsi

Commitee Members

Jeb Puryear, Jingjing Sun, Joel Iverson, Amy Ratto Parks


Ancestral Skills, Bushcraft, Folk Skills, Indigenous Education, Primitive Skills, Survival Skills


University of Montana


An ancestral skill is a “first” skill that may have originally been used for survival purposes but is no longer considered by Western culture to be required knowledge for human survival. Ancestral Skills Education is a method of sharing this ancestral knowledge through participatory, informal learning practices, in non-competitive environments, and from a non-commercial perspective. Ancestral Skills Education has the potential to create an eco-centric feeling of connectedness for practitioners. After experiencing these feelings of connectedness, ancestral skills practitioners may increase their pro-environment and pro-community thinking and behavior. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to create a description of the community and nature connectedness experienced by ancestral skills practitioners, the shared characteristics of experiences that created feelings of connectedness, the shared path to experiencing this connectedness, and the effect this connectedness had on their daily lives. Participants identified specific qualities of ancestral skills experiences that led them to a feeling of connectedness. Three types of skills were delineated: survival, functional and spiritual. Survival skills could create an immediate feeling of connectedness to community and nature. Functional skills created a feeling of connection to nature, community, personal history and to the spiritual world. Spiritual skills were difficult to participate in without first having a feeling of connectedness to community, but ultimately created a deep connection to community. Ancestral skills gatherings were identified as models for effective Ancestral Skills Education.



© Copyright 2021 Anne Barksdale Graham